High Streets Initiative · 7 December 2018

Give us human interaction: 1 in 5 shoppers have shouted at a self-service checkout

Almost one in five shoppers admitted shouting at a self-service checkout

Shoppers prefer the human touch rather than sophisticated retailer technology such as automated checkouts and AI, according to new findings.

A new survey from Gekko found that 77% of Brits said they want to speak to a human being rather than a self-service check-out or automated voice recording.

Over 80% claimed that the personal touch has disappeared from customer service in modern Britain with almost a third blaming an over-reliance on technology for this decline.
The study showed the average shopper believes they waste an average of 1.5 hours a month interacting with poorly functioning automated technology, only for a human to have to step in and help anyway. 

The biggest customer service bugbear to emerge from the poll of shoppers was having to get someone to come and rectify a problem with the self-service checkout followed by ringing customer services and dealing with a recorded voice, only to have repeat all the details to the person you end up talking to.

 Over 50% of Brits said they had “slammed the phone down in fury” during an automated call, as the system didn’t recognise what they were saying.

Just over 45% said they have had their self-service checkout procedure halted so that a human shop assistant could progress it, which has led to a frustrated 18% shouting at a self-service checkout.

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 Most shoppers said they would prefer to deal directly with someone when making a complaint, 59% would rather speak to a person to find out more information about a product, and 73% prefer dealing with a human when trying to get a refund.

 A third of Brits said they were more likely to buy again from a shop if they’ve received the personal touch, and more than a fifth claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant.

Just under half of Brits have had their screen freeze while trying to make an online purchase, with almost a quarter ending up having to complain on social media when their query hasn’t been responded to adequately via the automated service.

Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko said: “Everyone is talking about technology and innovation within retail, but our research clearly shows that what consumers really want is the human touch.” 

Only 30% of those polled said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, just 22% would like smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, and a mere 14% think augmented reality would help visualise products in the home.

 And, while 9% say they’d enjoy being served by talking robots in store, 27% agreed that they’d feel really uncomfortable having a conversation with a robot or AI device. 

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